Modernizing an 80's Oak Kitchen on a Tiny Budget

Previously, this kitchen (originally installed in 1988) was too monochromatic. The color of the cabinets and the floors was too similar and the small island was lost in sea of golden oak. The awful drop ceiling fluorescent light was extremely dated and the lack of cabinet hardware only emphasized the arched paneled doors which didn't feel very modern..
I stained the center island dark brown, and painted the cabinets a warm cream color (Manchester Tan by Benjamin Moore) I added hardware to the cabinets and removed the old fluorescent lights which I replaced with 2 pendants and some LED cans. I tiled the backsplash with pencil tile to accentuate the generic granite countertops. I also updated the kitchen faucet and removed a few cabinet doors to break up the monotony of the cabinet doors.
The entire transformation (including the new Bosch appliance suite) came in under $3500. I did all the work myself, including the electrical, plumbing and tiling. The transformation took a little less than 3 weeks.
For more information about this project (including more photos and detailed tutorials) please visit:

See the full makeover on my blog.. The photos are no longer available here!

Top Hometalk Projects

15 Fabulous Fire Pits For Your Backyard
15 Amazing Things You Can Make With Dollar Store Gems
15 Quick and Easy Gift Ideas Using Buttons
31 Super Cute & Easy DIY Ideas For Your Kitchen
31 Coastal Decor Ideas Perfect For Your Home
If Your Stairway Walls Are Empty, Here Are 25 Ways To Change Them Now!
20 Easy Concrete Projects You Absolutely CAN Do!
21 Insanely Cute Reasons to Add Pineapple to Your Decor
15 Kitchen Updates Under $20
31 Amazing Furniture Flips You Have to See to Believe
14 Cool Ways To Upholster Chairs That You Can DIY
15 Genius Curtain Ideas To Instantly Upgrade Your Space
30 Reasons We Can’t Stop Buying Michaels Storage Crates
15 Kitchen Updates Under $20
15 Genius Curtain Ideas To Instantly Upgrade Your Space

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Sam3656115
    on Jan 2, 2016

    What did you do to prep the cabinets for paint? I have 11 year old golden oak cabinets and want to paint, but not really wanting to strip the clear coat from all of them. I'm considering using liquid sandpaper. Also, did you brush, roll or spray, and did you do the inside of the cabinets as well. Thx, Sam

    • 2045673
      on Feb 6, 2016

      If you use Annie Sloan chalk paint all you have to do is rough the surface with a sanding block. Follow the directions on the can and you will be surprised how easy it is. This paint will adhere and last.

  • Tammi Bailey
    on Feb 14, 2016

    Did you buy granite countertops? Did you do it cheaply? Do you have any advice on how to find cheaper high end looking countertops?

    • Elaine
      on Mar 25, 2016

      That's a beautiful island & would provide a refreshing contrast to granite countertops! Wish I had room for an island in my "galley style" kitchen. Iwould definitely use the wood idea.

  • Megan
    on Mar 6, 2016

    Prior to painting of the cabinets, did you sand anything down or did you just prime and paint the cabinets? I am looking to do the same to mine and have read multiple ways to go about doing this. Thanks in advance!!

Join the conversation

2 of 218 comments
  • Dre
    on Mar 18, 2016

    Love the kitchen renovation! It is inspiring and I'm keeping this in mind for when I get to my kitchen!

  • Elaine
    on Mar 25, 2016

    Your kitchen is absolutely gorgeous; you did a super job and I like the door-less cupboard. Fantastic job on the ceiling too .... I'll never understand the once popular "box lighting" (or those horrible dropped ceilings! Re your arched cabinet doors, I don't find them offensive in any way & don't really notice them. Well done!

Your comment...